October 15th, 2013
Dragon Slayers and the American Dream
I believe that Dragon Slayers argues that we have a societal obligation to look past stereotypes. Anyone can be successful no matter what their background or social class is.
In James Tuslow Adams’ quote about the American dream he states “each man and each woman shall be…recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” I interpret this to mean we should see people for what they are now and what they overcame not what unfortunate circumstances they were subject to by birth or past ancestral history.
When Walker was at the Christmas party engaged in the conversation with a man, he refused to be pitied by being associated with white cruelty toward his ancestors. Associating African Americans with slavery and oppression by whites instead of other aspects of their culture is stereotyping. This relates to the part of the quote telling us to recognize people for what they are instead of pitying them. Just the act of pitying them can be a bigger insult than anything. It means that when you look at them you don’t see them now for who they are. You’re looking at a stereotyped version of them.
Walker also explained how he became his own stereotype when he was in college and wrote about all the “anger and pain” his people had to go through because of whites. He realized he had become his own stereotype because he looked at African Americans as victims instead of heroes as many people still do such as the man at the party. This relates to the above quote in the same way, but also applies to recognizing one’s self for who they are and not where they were born.
When he was younger, Walker explained to McPherson how he lived in the ghetto in poor economic conditions. He went on about how one brother got shot and the other is in and out of jail. Despite the harsh living conditions Walker went through, he soon realized that he could not resort to blaming others for what he went through all his life and wanting people to pity him. He wanted to find out more…